Knute Rockne All American (1940)
“You’d be a success at anything you tried, Knute.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
… and that just about sums it up perfectly. We see young Rockne (Billy Sheffield) — raised by his supportive dad (John Qualen) and mom (Dorothy Tree) — taking naturally to football:
… Rockne working hard (at the post office) to afford to attend college a little later than most:
… and Rockne getting along swimmingly with his roommate, Gus Dorais (Owen Davis Jr.) — alongside whom he “brought the forward pass to professional football”:
Eventually Rockne must decide — with help from Father John Callahan (Donald Crisp) and Father Julius Nieuwland (Albert Bassermann) — between a career as a chemistry instructor or a coach:
… and, of course, we know which path he will choose. He famously mentors baseball player-turned-football player George Gipp, who mouths the AFI’s 89th Greatest Movie Quote of all time on his deathbed:
Speaking of this film embodying “American values”, Gipp states the following line to Rockne’s devoted wife (Gale Page):
Other notable moments covered from Rockne’s life include coaching the “Four Horsemen” of Notre Dame:
… and Rockne’s tragic death in a plane crash at the age of 43, which led to improved aviation building standards. Football fans will surely be curious to check out this flick about the man who earned “the highest all-time winning percentage (.881) for a major college football coach”, and really did seem to be beloved by all — but it’s not must-see viewing for all film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
One thought on “Knute Rockne All American (1940)”
First viewing. Only for football enthusiasts.
Sturdy director Lloyd Bacon keeps it all moving smoothly enough. I’m rather removed from football (and its allure) personally so my eyes glazed over when Rockne waxes philosophical about the sport reflecting “the natural spirit of combat”.
But certainly the ending is sad.